So, maybe Disney has a policy of not paying royalties to authors?
I have no idea.
It does make sense though as a business decision.
Sure, it feels a little cold…
But it is a lot cleaner than all the negotiation, all the back and forth, and all the future headache of who owned what percentage and how much was due. Heaven forbid the right got passed down a few generations.
You make a generous offer for 100% of the rights – or nothing.
Clean and done.
Wouldn’t you love to have the royalties from Mary Poppins though…
I had several phone conversations with Disney people and pleaded with them to understand that I simply couldn’t sign a contract that gave Disney all rights to my life’s work and offered me no royalties. As reasonable people, couldn’t we work out a deal that gave Disney what they wanted and allowed me to share in the income that came from characters I had created? Their answer was a polite “no.” Disney had a policy of not paying royalties to authors. (The only exception to that, as far as I know, came in their dealings with the author of Mary Poppins. Walt wanted to do the story and gave ground). The position of their legal department was that they had worked up a deal with my agent and I could either sign it or not.
-John Erickson, Story Craft (Amazon)